Million-Dollar Suit Against Glouster To Return To Court

By
Joe Higgins - Athens Messenger Editor


Updated Fri, May 16, 2014 5:56 pm

A complex civil suit involving the village of Glouster and a tow company is headed back to Athens County Common Pleas Court after a district court denied several appeals in the case.

David Dolan and his wife, Jennifer, owners of J. D. Towing, were awarded $1.04 million in compensatory and punitive damages after suing Glouster, former mayors David Angle and Robert Funk and former police chief Roger Taylor in 2003.

Common Pleas Judge Michael Ward (who has since retired) dropped the amount to $130,000, but multiple appeals of the case have continued to proceed through the court system. Earlier this month, the 4th District

Court of Appeals ruled on the numerous appeals and ordered that the judgments made in common pleas court be affirmed in the case.

The entire matter started more than a decade ago when Dolan towed a vehicle at the request of Glouster police. The vehicle was held for three days and a bill of $70 was levied. Dolan claimed that he was told by Angle to reduce the bill or Angle would see to that the towing businesses would suffer. Dolan said he refused and alleged that his business was called less and less by the village and its officials. He accused the officials of conspiring to destroy his company.

The case was delayed on several occasions before making it to trial, when a jury would find for Dolan and call for $1.04 million in damages to be awarded. Ward would later rule that the jury was influenced by passion or prejudice and he reduced the awarded amount to $130,000, but also ordered a retrial on the damages which has yet to take place.

In appeals, the defendants claimed that Ward erred by upholding the jury's decision that the village interfered in the towing business and claimed numerous other abuses of discretion by Ward.

The Dolans had their own list of cross-assignments of error, including disputes on the change in the amount awarded.

The appeals court decided to overrule all nine of the defendants' assignments of error as well as the Dolans' five cross-assignments of error.

With the appeals court's decision, the case now heads back to common pleas court for a retrial on punitive and compensatory damages, but the finding of liability against the defendants stands.

A date for the new trial has not yet been scheduled.

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